By Jeremy McDonald
SHERIDAN, Ore.– As the season wraps up, every game just as important as the next and the one before with playoff positioning at stake.
Sheridan had the third-place spot in the Tri-River League all but wrapped up entering their game with Santiam, but sealed the deal with a five-set battle with the Wolverines 15-25, 25-23, 25-23, 26-24, 15-11 to close out the regular season entering League Playoffs on Senior Night.
It was Senior Night, and yeah their might have been some nerves in that opening first set and the Wolverines took full advantage of it knowing what was the possibility with Delphian at their heels for fourth-place and Colton and Gervais behind them.
“I think we came out with the mentality that we could do it and that ‘this is it, for the seniors. Play for them, play for us’ and push and give it our all,” said McKenzie Weaver.
Santiam’s 11 wins on the season is the most they’ve had since they recorded 13 in 2013 and more than their last two seasons combined (one win in 2016, nine in 2017).
For the Lady Spartans, who’ve been in these tight situations before, rose to the occasion held off the Lady Wolverines in the second and third sets.
“You could tell the difference in our…just overall in our team. At the end you could tell by our energy all around and just wanted to come together, it was just how we finished it,” said Sheridan’s Iana Duarte.
The fourth set was the same with both sides going back-and-forth. Audry Hardy had a weird save that resulted in a Santiam point and Catalina Quintero spiked down a block to put the Wolverines up 11-9.
Duarte tied it at 17 before the Wolverines pushed it to 20-18. Alyssa Campbell seemed unstoppable serving though as the Spartans were one point from winning the match up 24-22 before a service error gave Santiam a chance to extend the match to five.
Weaver got two service aces herself to turn a 24-23 deficit into a 25-24 lead before taking the fourth set a point later with the nerves riding high for the final set with the crowd cheering both sides on.
“Just take a breath, take your time. It was really nerve-racking,” said Duarte entering the fifth set. “Now we have playoffs on Saturday and it’s home, so we’re excited with the win. Just prove we’re the better team and just grow from this.”
Durate’s Service Ace made it 5-3 with the Spartans leading 6-3 early. Santiam chipped at the lead, getting it to one after Weaver’s kill, but couldn’t get any closer with Sheridan pulling away for the win.
As the Spartans wait to see who they’ll host Saturday, the Wolverines will be traveling to Culver to close out the regular season as they’ll learn from their fifth five-set battle of the season.
“It was mentally, physically tough just because we knew what was at stake and everything we had to do. We just had to give it our all and one mistake, yeah. We just got to pick our heads up and keep going“ said Weaver of Monday’s match. “I think we just need to keep our heads up and shake all the mistakes off and just play our hardest and play the way we know we can,”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald